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SHIRTS (Buy CDs by this artist)
The Shirts (Capitol) 1978
Street Light Shine (Capitol) 1979
Inner Sleeve (Capitol) 1980
JING/CHEMICAL WEDDING
Off the Board [tape] (CBGB) 1987
JING
Jing (Three Cherries) 1989

Six Brooklynites known as the Shirts were playing Top 40 covers in local bars until they happened onto the Bowery club circuit in 1975. Abandoning the boroughs for a career in Manhattan with original material, the Shirts became a popular (if unhip) fixture on the burgeoning New York new wave scene, and went on to make three albums of totally bland hoping-for-the-mainstream rock. Singer Annie Golden went on to success as a singer/actress — in the movie of Hair, with a solo single in 1984 and on Broadway — but the Shirts are little more than a dull memory. Each of the albums has an enjoyable song or two, but there's nothing remarkable about any of them.

A decade later, Shirts guitarist/vocalist Artie LaMonica (now calling himself Arthur Jing) turned up back on CBGB's stage, filling one side of a live cassette with his solo debut. Supported by a skilled quartet and bearing traces of Elvis Costello, Bob Dylan and Dion in his voice, Jing makes a credible, well-recorded showing. Four of the same songs turn up again on the eponymous studio album, a not unpleasant anachronism that has its roots in '70s new wave, Brill Building pop and the same mixture of '60s rock and soul that informed Springsteen's early records. Golden guests on three tracks.

[Ira Robbins]